Watch It Before It’s Gone …
The videos are dropping like flies … so watch this now, one of the best:
Soft-shell crabs, bitchez. 1st of season. Woo hoo!
@Benedick<: What a treat, what a fucking treat, yay, for you, I say yay for you, Sir.
This evening, my son and I went surf fishing, until now, its been an amusingly futile thing we do, but this time, I experienced my first ever bluefish "blitz," apparently, when they are biting, they are biting. The boy caught a monster bluefish, near 10 pounds, all by himself, when I saw how his rod was bending, I went into a panic to get my waders on, I knew I would have to go into the water to land it, and it was a monster.
After that, I caught another, which we released, one big bluefish is enough for a week, and we hooked up with 4 more, but lost them, one was a monster, I was actually winded fighting it, every cast, we either hooked a fish immediately, or had the bait stolen immediately.
Much happiness and rejoicing, and we ate it, bluefish, I know, not a culinary delight, but it was fresh, like, an hour out of the water when I cooked it, and bluefish is pretty good, if you bleed it immediately, clean it quickly, and carefully cut out the gamy parts.
The boy is still in heaven.
What? Not a culinary delight? I can’t think of anything more culinarily delightful than bluefish!
Especially grilled! Mmmmmm!
I am so jealous.
But don’t try to freeze it. Defrosted bluefish is among the most foul things on earth.
@karen marie: After tonight, I am thinking its reputation is not deserved, it was great.
@Promnight: Spinners, top water lures? Spill, dude.
@redmanlaw: Bunker chunking. I had fresh manhaden, you just cut it in chunks and put a chunk on the hook.
The fish we kept, its stomach was full of bunker chunks, bait it stole from us or someone else.
@Promnight: Bait casting with one of those pyramid-shaped weights on a two handed rod? Wish my I had my McClane’s Standard Encyclopedia of Fishing handy, but I keep all my fishing books at the office.
@redmanlaw: I have heard and read about these bluefish “blitzes,” when you could fill a garbage can if you wanted, thats what was happening, I would throw a bait out, with a 9 foot surf pole and a 5 ounce sinker, its 100 feet out there, and every time, a bluefish would either steal the bait, or hook up, within a minute.
We got 4 fish right up into the wash, the waves on the beach, before we lost them, and one, the one that broke my 20 pound test line, I saw it thrashing on the surface 100 feet out, it was a big one. Of course, the one that got away.
@redmanlaw: Thats exactly what we were doing.
@Benedick: Shame on you! Think of those cute cuddly little crabs in their soft, soft shells, helpless, defenseless against the predation of the human stain that seeks to consume all in its path on this precious Earth.
@Promnight: would someone take me deep sea fishing already? I need help …
@Promnight: Yeah, I can’t imagine where you heard bad things about bluefish. There used to be a spin-off of Boston’s North End’s Daily Catch (home of the greatest fried calamari anywhere) in Brookline that had a grill and did bluefish. One of life’s greatest delights.
@Pedonator: pedo, its so much worse than that. You see, the Blueclaw Crab, it only mates when the female has shed and is in the soft stage, which only lasts a matter of hours.
The male can sense a female who is about to shed, and what happens is, the crabs usual crabbiness is put in abeyance, and the female basically submits herself to the protection of the male during her so vulnerable moulting process. She sheds her shell, then, without a shell, soft, completely helpless and vulnerable, the male takes her in his many legs, wraps them around her, and holds her to his underside, and he protects her until her new shell hardens.
Oh, and there is also the sex.
But anyway, the only way to catch a softshell, your own self, out on the water, is to go looking for these pairs, you actually have to go stalk them in shallow water, with a net, or along piers, on pilings, and you scoop them up, which I imagine is a rude form of coitus interruptus indeed.
Then you eat the soft one, the female.
The commercial method is different, what happens is the commercial crabbers, who catch hard shells with traps or dredges, they watch for “peelers,” you can see when a crab is going to moult soon, and they set these crabs aside. There are other people, not usually the crabbers themselves, other people specialize in this, who buy the “peelers” and put them in these floating cages, they have to be on the water, and they have these floating cages, they will have a dock, and dozens of these cages around the dock. They put the peelers in the cages, and then they wait till they moult.
But, once a crab sheds its shell, it only takes a couple of hours till the new one hardens, so these dudes have to check those cages, constantly, 24-7, and scoop out the softshells. Its seriously 24-7, someone has to check the cages every hour, around the clock, remember, each crab is a $5 bill, so if they let it get hard, thats money lost, a hard shell is worth about $1.00.
Its amazing, the people working these jobs noone ever heard of, so we can have our little luxury, isn’t it? If not for those people checking those cages, the only people who would ever eat a softshell crab are serious watermen, people who know the very secret art of finding the couple-crabs, usually done by wearing a headlamp and walking the shallows at night with a hand net.
I have caught a softshell the old-fashioned way, exactly twice in my life. And I live to be out on the water, fishing, crabbing, all summer long. Those two softshells, each eaten within an hour of being caught, were sublime, incredible, orgasmically delicious.
But its amazing to me, we can, if we want to pay the price, buy softshells, and I think the price is ridiculously low, considering the effort and work put in by these unknown nameless people performing this meticulous and dirty and low-tech, antiquated method of obtaining soft-shells.
Its a beautiful dance, some aspects of our modern commerce. These low-income, subsistence-level baymen go out in their old, rickety boats, its usually a one-man operation, one guy, an old 20 foot skiff, often an old hull of an old pleasure boat that he tore the deck off of, and put in some planks for a floor, and this guy goes out alone, and pulls up his string of traps, and after hours on the water, rain, wind, sun, whatever, he’s out pulling up crab traps for hours, on a good day, he brings back 10 bushels of crabs and collects his $150 from the wholesaler.
Now remember he can only do this for maybe 150 days a year.
And someone else, who isn’t making a fortune either, buys the peelers, and his business, half the year at most, is the tedious business of babysitting crabs until they shed.
And once the crabs shed, buyers take them and pack them, and they are flown off on airplanes around the fucking world, and wherever they go, they must be eaten within at most 48 hours.
They go from the bay beside me here, to the Wegmons in Pittsburgh, get put on display, are sold, and eaten, within a day or two.
It boggles my mind. Its a beautiful thing, an intricate dance, low tech and high tech, all to supply this niche luxury item, there are people living around me whose livelihood depends on the fact that people love softshell crabs, a ridiculous thing, a rarity that without this complicated network of people devoting their lives to this, almost noone in the world would ever taste this treat, really, only a few thousand people in the world are in the position to ever catch their own softshell crab to eat.
Its fucking amazing.
@blogenfreude: You are invited, when can you come?
@Promnight: It is really fucking amazing. That was a fascinating lesson and I thank you for it.
But all this talk of submitting during the moulting process, and brawny big-bicepped fishermen casting their nets…I’m going to have to excuse myself. Was that your intention?
Anyway, think of what we go through to enjoy a cup of fava beans. That, sir, is a manly endeavor.
@Pedonator: Prom knows everything. I don’t count crabs but I do count lobsters. I don’t count clams and mussels and I’m trying not to think about tuna.
@Promnight: I didn’t know most of that, thanks. Mine were delicious last night. I hear that the best grade, known as ‘velvets’, only ever goes to restaurants. BTW. I love bluefish. When the Mayflower made landfall and before they got off, when a scouting party went out to choose the site for the town-to-be (they turned down Boston harbor they were such losers) they wrote of the waters behind the big hook of land that is Cape Cod as being so thick with bluefish that you could walk across their backs to shore. Of course, being English, they wouldn’t eat them. No foodies they.
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